Post-2014 Indian Influence in Afghanistan


India’s deepening influence in Afghanistan is not new, but after 2014, it is surely going to create a more bitter environment of mistrust and apprehensions between the two neighbors having nukes in hands.

Indian Influence in Afghanistan, India-Afghan Relations, Post 2014, Post NATO AfghanistanEvery country in the world pursues her national interests; some even at the cost of regional stability and peace. As the 2014 US withdrawal from Afghanistan is approaching fast, every country in the region, i.e., Pakistan, India, Iran and China, is looking to secure their short and long term gains/interests in Afghanistan. At the moment, every regional country must be devising some policy regarding how to move after the allied forces leave and the combat mission ends in Afghanistan.  In this changing and emerging scenario, India is also looking for her interests in the region, particularly in Afghanistan. Besides huge Indian investment, reconstruction work, defense and security ties and training of Afghan National Security Forces, there is, somehow, an inevitable Indian presence in Afghanistan that is posing some serious questions and threats for regional peace and stability.

As the US withdrawal is approaching, the memories from the past haunt Pakistan, as it felt abandoned after the Soviet defeat and the Americans left both Pakistan and Afghanistan at the mercy of no one. The US reinforcement of India as a power in south Asia is an extra worrisome move that is disturbing Pakistan. Presently, Afghanistan relies on the presence of allies and international troops so as to avoid regional games and threats to peace and security. So, ideally, Pakistan may prefer a prolonged presence of the ISAF in Afghanistan, as it will somewhat neutralize India’s presence and moves in the region that threaten the security of Pakistan. A real exit, in which financial aid is cut off as soon as the US exits Afghanistan, will be a major blow for the stability of Pakistan. Irrespective of the US presence and actions in Afghanistan, Pakistan is gradually becoming unstable, so a real exit strategy may strain the US-Pak relation and can be very destructive for the internal stability of Pakistan.

The post-2014 situation in Afghanistan, good or bad, will definitely be going to affect Pakistan. According to Cordesman analysis, most likely Pakistan will not get stable and it will keep on leaning towards a “failed state”, unless some revolution or change in leadership starts responding to internal issues and problems. Pakistan’s internal conflicts and problems go far beyond the war in Afghanistan, and no group has seriously addressed this issue to talk about the reforms from inside and internal revamping. Cordesman summarized this whole transition as, “In short, the most probable result of “transition” will not be what some US policymakers have come to call “Afghan Good Enough” – a stable democratic state – nor will it be a stable Pakistan. It will be an unstable form of “Afghan Muddle Through,” coupled with an unstable Pakistan still driven largely by its internal problems and tensions with India.”

At the moment, Pakistan has some vital interests in Afghanistan that primarily include the restoration of peace and stability in Afghanistan, complete eradication of terrorism and extremism, preventing Afghan soil from being used against Pakistan’s sovereignty and security, especially preventing hostile Indian military presence which threatens Pakistan’s security and stability. Besides, Pakistan is looking for a peaceful border with Afghanistan, which can ensure cooperation at bilateral, regional and multilateral levels. The return of Afghan refugees is also one of the important things Pakistan is looking forward to. Pakistan has no doubt an important role in the transition period in Afghanistan, and Pakistan will facilitate a smooth and systematic transition. To realize its interests, Pakistan has to facilitate the process leading to peace and stability in Afghanistan.

One of the academicians who were interviewed in this regard shared that Pakistan does not want and cannot wish for an anti-Pak government in Kabul, as it will keep the strains high on both sides of the border. If in any case it is not pro-Pak, at least it should not be anti-Pak either, or it should not be much pro-India. Pakistan wants stability and peace in Afghanistan at this moment, as it will ensure peace and stability in Pakistan as well. Pakistan has to keep its approach friendly through diplomatic channels and needs to invest in the Afghan infrastructure that should be tangible in the longer run.

While communicating for a research project, Dr. Marvin G. Weinbaum explained, “India’s involvement in Afghanistan will increase somewhat with a US withdrawal, but will probably continue to show some restraint in order to avoid frightening Pakistan with its assistance policies. But India’s influence could become far more important should the Afghan state come apart and the Indian government decides to provide substantial assistance, including military, in a civil war to those fighting the Taliban.”

In William Dalrymple’s article “Forget NATO v the Taliban. The real Afghan fight is India v Pakistan”, published in The Guardian, the author describes that besides the Taliban/Alqaeda vs NATO/US forces, the Afghan conflict is actually a fight between two nuclear-armed regional powers, India and Pakistan. He mentions that “some Indian hawks argue that by taking on a more robust military role in Afghanistan, India could fill the security vacuum left by the US withdrawal, advance its regional interests, compete with its Chinese rival for influence in the country, and thwart its Pakistani enemy at the same time.”

The increasing interest and influence of India in Afghanistan and the US support to lift India as a regional power definitely will polarize the strategic environment in the region. India and Afghanistan also reached a strategic partnership, Karzai leading the case from the Afghan side. It is also important to note that due to this growing Indian influence in Afghanistan (and for a few other security reasons), Pakistan has deployed over 150,000 troops along the Afghan border for first time in history. If the United States is leaving the region at this mode, it surely will not go towards stability or peace; rather it has become more volatile, uncertain and will be regionally polarized. This polarization and hostile environment will prove fatal for the region in general and in particular for India and Pakistan.

India’s deepening influence in Afghanistan is not new, but after 2014, it is surely going to create a more bitter environment of mistrust and apprehensions between the two neighbors having nukes in hands. Pakistan certainly has not any problems with “India-Afghanistan Friendship” and the rehabilitation work India is doing in Afghanistan, but when Afghan soil is used by India to create instability and chaos in Pakistan, then it certainly has its repercussions and impact. As NATO combat missions are going to be over and most of the combat forces will leave, both India and Afghanistan are keen on deepening their defense and security ties, with several initiatives intended to increase the capabilities of the Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF). As the US/NATO are steadily losing influence in Kabul, India is gearing up all her activities and power to stay in the loop. India invested a great deal, both politically and financially, in Afghanistan to secure and guarantee its long term interests in the region, but we have to wait and see how adequately they are returned in the near future.

Pakistan has certain reservations about Afghan land being used against Pakistan, and time and again, Pakistan has provided facts of Indian involvement in the Balochistan insurgency. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Jalil Abbas Jilani, during an interview with ‘Dawn’, rejected the claim that Pakistan was against giving India a role in Afghanistan. He said, “Pakistan will not object to any legitimate mandate that is pursued by any country, but when they go beyond their legitimate mandate, we will have very serious concerns”. He further added, “We have no problem if India plays a stabilizing role, but to destabilize Pakistan by using Afghan territory that will be a major concern.” These statements form a senior official reflect apprehensions on the part of Pakistan about India’s present and future aims that can cause serious security concerns, specifically for Pakistan and for the region in general. He also made a very important comment on India’s role in destabilizing Pakistan in relevance to Balochistan insurgency, “India is certainly not playing a very positive role, they are definitely involved.” These comments from a very senior person at this crucial time when the United States is packing up from Afghanistan certainly hold primary importance.

India is exploiting the volatile situation in Balochistan, and there are evidences of Indian meddling in Balochistan via Afghanistan. Foreign footprints are quite visible in the aggravating instability and chaos in Balochistan. In an analysis “From Daisy Cutters to Democracy Cutters” published on PKKH, it was mentioned that ‘It is notable that the Indian Army’s increasingly suspicious activities and movements are being monitored by Pakistan all over Afghanistan, especially in Jalalabad and Qandahar, apart from the dozens of Indian consulates operating near the Af-Pak borders’. The Baloch separatists have often sought refuge in Afghanistan, morally boosted and financially backed by India; Pakistan has reported this as well. Pakistan is well aware of the Indian games and proxy planned via Afghanistan, as insurgents cannot survive without proper material support and sustenance, of which India has taken the burden for quite some time.

Both India and Pakistan see Afghanistan as a battleground to defeat each other, but for now, things have to be re-examined and re-judged in order to create an environment of trust and cooperation. If after the US/NATO withdrawal from Afghanistan, Pakistan and India continue to play their proxies, then in the near future, a stable and peaceful region is nowhere to be seen. So, India needs to examine her policies and initiatives that are creating suspicions. With an internal deteriorating condition, crisis and chaos, Pakistan cannot afford to have India in place of the US/NATO in Afghanistan, as it will be an alarming condition for regional security and stability. More so, Pakistan cannot further stand Afghan soil being used by India to pursue her ‘long term aims of being a regional power’. The growing Indian presence in Afghanistan is something not desirable at the moment, and if India will pursue her national interests at the cost of regional stability and peace and will threaten Pakistan’s security and stability, then Pakistan will have to devise some counter strategy to stand Indian moves and plans accordingly.

is researcher and a regular contributor at PKKH. She is a Human Rights, Youth and a Peace Activist and has done her MPhil in ‘Peace and Conflict Studies’ from NDU. She can be reached at and she tweets at @battlehawk_

Discussion14 Comments

  1. ” apart from the dozens of Indian consulates operating near the Af-Pak borders”

    Forget “dozens”. Can the author name just 10 Indian Consulates in Afghanistan? I won’t even ask for 10 near the af-pak border … just 10. C’mon, I’ll even help you out with 5

    Kabul, Herat, Mazar-i-Sharif, Kandahar and Jalalabad

    ps : hint : there are only 5 in Afghanistan

    • my friend ,its not the quantity o0r nos is the quality and the intensity of work india is doing in afghanistan.Though india may pose to the world as regional player competing against china,but in your hearts of heart u know who ur real competitor is and will always be.if india wants to play games with pakistan in afghanistan after US withdraws….DA GUZ DA MAIDAN DA (pushto phrase)

  2. It wont be prudent for india to send its army in Afghanistan. However, India must ensure that talibani elements are kept away from the govt and that democracy and development continues there by all means. Iran and Afghanistan are India’s access to central asian market and resources. Its in the interest of India and Afghanistan that there is peace in this region. If this region is permanently militarized, there wont be any business or economic growth.

    Pakistan’s assumptions that India’s influence will bring instability in the region is just a figment of imagination. Every country wants to have its influence and so is india but today and in future the influence will come from economic power and not military power.

  3. To the Indian – the son of the dirty infected Ganges I say;

    Why is there a consulate inside Jalabad and Qandahar? For what purpose.

    No Indians in Jalabad and Qandahar and read the history of these people to units and why there are no Indians there and will never be.

    There is but one reason why these consulates are littered along the Pak Afghan border at least have the decency to admit it.

    Where did the South Asian uncircumcised fighters who were killed in SWAT come from?
    Why was Bramadagh Bugti found in Lurking in Afghanistan under the protection of these Indian consulates and why did he have an Indian passport?
    Why did the Rigi brothers meet Indians before taking a flight to UAE but thankfully intercepted by Iran.

    The list goes in.

    Not going to hold my breath on a mature measured response from the resident Indian trolls who frequent this site.

    • For the exact same reason that Pakistan has. India has 5 consulates, most of which are next door to Pakistan’s consulates.

      So – why is there a Pakitani consulate in Jalalabad and Kandahar? For what purpose.

      Now – this “south asian” “uncircumcised” fighter that you’re referring to was ultimately determined to be Uzbek. You might want to check your facts.

      And guess what – Bugti wasn’t “found” in an Indian Consulate and neither does he have an Indian Passport. Do you have any evidence or are you just rattling nonsense?

      However – perhaps you can answer why Dawood Ibrahim has a Pakistani Passport – oh yes, even your Govt admitted that

      I’m not holding my breath to get sense from someone who is obviously so brainwashed that he cannot determine facts from fiction any more.

  4. Should read..

    There are no Indians in Jalabad and Qandahar so why the consulates, we all know the history and we all know why Indians will never be welcomed there.

    (kha kismet darta ghowaram to the sons of the Dirty Ganges we hope it is not a declaration of another panipat)

  5. I m frm ne india and u knw wht every bdy in assam knws that isi supports almost every insurgents and that ulfa chief is hiding in china after being shot by burmese army…we just dnt care… Pakis think muslims hate india but reality is that the indian muslims hate pakis except pak refugees

  6. Alansaralhaq is hillarious as usual. He can eat pork, commit shirk but not stop using the language against indians that he learnt from his parents.
    Now to reply him in his language (sorry, my parents did not teach me to use any foul language), but the interprettion that he understands.
    1. The indian consulates in Afghanistan are not there to facilitate thousands of afghans who come to india for studies or business or other purposes as encouraged by India but these consulates are actually there to hire and train people and provide them weapons, finances and other supports and infiltrate them into Pakistan so that they can fight for freedom of Balochistan, Pakhtunistan and Waziristan… like mukti bahini did in east pakistan in 1971.
    2. India is creating a secret militia of afghan youth which will attack pakistan and keep Pak army engaged.
    3. This secret militia will secretely attack and destroy pakistan’s nuclear installations.
    4. The secret commandos will target and anihilate all kashmiri terrorists hiding in PoK and other parts of Pakistan.
    5. Indian consulates are doing ground work to replace the US forces, after their withdrawal from Afghanistan by the end of 2014. India wants a permanent base in Afghanistan for at least 2 divisions and 2 airbases.
    6. India is building a secret tunnel between India and Afghanistan for a variety of purposes.

    I hope some people are satisfied with the answer.

    • hehehehe lol

      Yeah that’s right. We are building a secret tunnel to Afghanistan. Also, all of us work for RAW and secretly, we all want Akhand Bharat because we really really want to integrate Pakistan back into India.


      • Thats the advantage of being a vegetarian!!!u guys never get infuriated and let me eulogize u for that but do u think that integrating pakistan will help u in any way????beside ur pluses one negative aspect is that prejudice runs in ur veins which was the reason,quaid-e-azam and all the muslim league leaders got disgruntled from congress….therefore…my friend u were responsible to create Pakistan,we just capitalized on the opportunity!all flag bearers of muslim league were initially for united india as they wanted to get rid of GORAS.

        • The reasons for which Mr. Jinnah insisted on creating Pakistan have been proven wrong. Rather partition caused ill-will among the communities. If Muslim League’s assumptions were right, the muslims in India would be living in hell under so called “hindu regime”. But India still attracts Muslim refugees from Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Myanmar and No Indian muslim including kashmiris ever thinks of leaving India.
          I would personally like the people of the subcontinent to integrate rather than integrating the land. However, we have gone far away from each other and mistrust dominates all interactions.

  7. Afghans are treated as slaves by the Pskistan Government . India is keen to maintain peaceful relationship with Afghanistan whereas the ISI uses the Taliban to extract money from Uncle Sam.
    Peace in Afghanistan will choke the perpetual flow of dollars from US .The military establishment in Pakistan is only interested in milking US and keep Indians under perpetual threat of terror attacks,Pakistan has only one goal – to be Anti India and create instability in AghanistanThe moment peace returns in Afghanistan , Pak military will suffer from asphyxiation .

  8. Thanks to Aseem, Mustafa, Iqbal… to PAKIS….Dont live under the false impression that muslims are anti Indians… INDIAN MUSLIMS are most patriotic, they have sacrificed their lives for their country and will continue to do so… 🙂 M a hindu but can proudly say that I have many patriotic muslim friends….Our culture in India does not allow discrimination on religious grounds…so chill and concentrate on development …. u can never divide India on religious grounds…. All Indiana irrespective of their religions are brave slodiers of India….INDIAN ARMY has 125 crore soldiers!

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